Starters is a thrilling Sci-Fi dystopia debut from Lissa Price. The creepy body rental concept and plot twists got me invested in the story from the bStarters is a thrilling Sci-Fi dystopia debut from Lissa Price. The creepy body rental concept and plot twists got me invested in the story from the beginning and kept me up late reading. It is fast moving and gripping and just the thing to get me excited about dystopia again.
As Starters begins, sixteen-year-old orphan Callie is struggling to survive in a near-future Los Angeles. She lost her parents to the Spore Wars, where the biological attack killed all adults aged 20-60, because there weren’t enough vaccines for them to be protected in an attack. Now Callie, and friend Michael, is responsible for her sickly little brother Tyler. Unclaimed minors like Callie (called Starters) are forbidden to have jobs, while the elderly (called Enders) live a luxury lifestyle, with job security, fancy cars, and mansions. But Starters do have something that Enders want, and that is youth, which is where Prime Destinations comes in.
With nowhere else to turn, Callie signs a contract with the body renting company Prime Destinations, run by the mysterious “Old Man.” This company rents the bodies of desirable Starters for up to a month to Enders seeking to be young again. After the Starter has fulfilled their contract by being rented 3 times, they in turn receive a big sum of money. But things don’t go as planned, and in the middle of a rental, Callie wakes up as herself in unfamiliar surroundings in the middle of a nightclub. She has to fight to keep control of her mind and body from her renter, who is cooking up a dangerous scheme.
The idea of body renting was so disturbing to me, and even though certain dangerous behavior was off limits, you never know what’s really going on. It’s interesting to see Callie portray someone else with her own body, and befriend other elderly “renters.” She gets an inside look into how renters view the donors and the dangers involved. It’s like an undercover operation for Callie as she gets pulled into a bigger mystery. I liked Callie – she’s resourceful and strong, and it made sense to me that she signed the contract in hopes for a better life for her brother.
There are no lulls in the action in this book. Callie is always on the move, and even though she has some allies it’s hard to know whom she really can trust. There are several jaw-dropping reveals that keep the story interesting. There is not a lot of detail about what led to the current circumstances in the world such as the reasons behind the war, why teens can’t work, etc. But for me, I was entertained just the same with the multi-layered characters, the action and the suspense.
The romance does not play a starring role in this book. There are two potential love interests introduced, but it was not enough of a focus for me to be invested in either character. Am interested to see how the romance develops in the sequel though.
The ending brings a surprising cliffhanger that will leave you clamoring for the sequel. The second and final book in the series, Enders, is due out in December, but in the meantime there are some short stories planned. And there is a prequel called Portrait of a Starter, told from Michael’s POV that is available now. If you are looking for something to read after Divergent or The Hunger Games, give Starters a try....more
I first found out about this book appropriately enough at Comic-Con. My husband attended the Speculative Fiction panel that included author Ernest CliI first found out about this book appropriately enough at Comic-Con. My husband attended the Speculative Fiction panel that included author Ernest Cline, and later told me about the book. Once I found out it was a dystopian that included 80s references galore I knew I had to read it. I had a blast listening to the audiobook of Ready Player One and loved getting lost in all the pop culture references from some of my favorite movies, music, games and TV shows of the 80s.
Ready Player One is set in a bleak future America in 2044 where real life has gotten so bad that most people spend all their time in the preferable virtual world of the OASIS. The 80s obsessed and eccentric billionaire James Halliday created this virtual reality and does not charge a service fee. When he dies, his will announces a worldwide contest to find the hidden Easter egg, and the winner will inherit the OASIS and his wealthy estate. The contestants must solve the clues that reference Halliday’s favorite games, movies, TV shows and music to find 3 keys to open the gates to fame and fortune. When years go by and no one gets close to solving the first puzzle, it’s beginning to look like a hopeless exercise.
Wade Watts, better known by his avatar name of Parzival, has obsessively been studying Halliday’s favorite pop culture icons to try to win the contest, and best the evil corporation that seeks to win at any cost. Wade is an orphan who lives in a stacked trailer park, and doesn’t have the online currency of his peers to roam the planets in search of clues. But, Wade is still the first to make some headway in the contest, although he soon has some company on the scoreboard.
The author does a good job with the world building and I had a good sense of the issues that led to this dystopian state. It is funny to imagine these teens of 2044 latching on to 80s pop culture in the hopes of gaining a brighter and richer future.
Beyond the dystopian elements, the book really shines with its nod to and obvious affection for the 80s. I could not include every reference found in the book, but suffice to say there are a ton of 80s references, from War Games to Heathers, Family Ties, Duran Duran, and Pac Man, Galaga, and more. It lost me a little bit with the Dungeons & Dragons and Monty Python, but for the most part the references were a fun trip down memory lane.
The book also touches on other themes that are relevant in today’s world, such as in person versus online relationships. The character Wade strikes up some friendships in the book via his Parzival avatar and it is interesting to see how the relationships develop. It is also interesting to see how the contestants plan to spend their potential fortune, and speculate what the world would be like if the evil corporate leader Sorrento won.
Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook, and I can’t imagine a more perfect choice. His enthusiasm and knowledge of the material shines through and his voice is just right for Wade. He even gets to name-check himself in the book which is hilarious. I got through this over 15-hour audiobook in just a few days, as I was addicted to the story and listened to it as often as I could. I can’t recommend the audiobook highly enough.
I think this entertaining and fun read will appeal to a wide audience, not just those with firsthand knowledge of the 80s. I’m ready for the movie and the soundtrack!...more
Scored takes place in a future not so far away, where society is under constant video surveillance. Standardized tests are a thing of the past, replacScored takes place in a future not so far away, where society is under constant video surveillance. Standardized tests are a thing of the past, replaced by the watchful eyeball of ScoreCorp, who assigns a monthly score based on five elements of mental fitness. The scoring system was designed to create upward mobility to all, regardless of class. But is the trade-off worth the personal sacrifices you have to make to maintain your score?
I like this type of realistic dystopia that’s easy to envision and makes you think about the future. The dystopian society presented in Scored is relevant to today’s world and brings up concerns about privacy, class, race, and questions the relevancy of standardized test scores. In Scored, every choice you make in your daily life is scrutinized and could bring you one step closer to a better life or doomed to failure. Your score is constantly being evaluated whether you are inside or outside school grounds, and the score of whom you associate with can even impact your score. I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to wait for those monthly scores to be posted.
Imani LeMonde is nearly finished with high school and has an enviable Score in the 90s. If she maintains that score to graduation she’s on the road to success with a scholarship to the university of her choice, something she wouldn’t be able to afford without the Score. However, one false move could cause her score to dip below the scholarship line and Imani could lose it all. Her best friend Cady has a Score in the low 70s, and they have a pact to stick together through thick and thin. That pact is put to the test when Cady’s romance with an unscored causes a big drop in Score. When Imani pairs up with the unscored Diego on a class project about the Score, she starts to question her beliefs about the scoring system.
I liked Imani’s banter with Diego as they debated the pros and cons of being Scored for their class project. Both sides of the argument were presented evenly and provided food for thought. Their class project is high stakes because it could afford one of them a college scholarship regardless of their Scored status.
The story moves at a brisk pace, and at just over 200 pages, the words fly by. The only complaint I have is I wish that the ending were expanded upon. There are a lot of interesting ideas throughout the book that seem to build to something big, but the end result doesn’t quite live up to the promise. I still found the book engaging and thought provoking though, and I found Scored an entertaining read. I would be interested in reading more from this author....more
Juliette spends her days locked up in isolation because of her deadly talent to kill with a single touch. She has been shunned her entire life by herJuliette spends her days locked up in isolation because of her deadly talent to kill with a single touch. She has been shunned her entire life by her classmates, and even her parents have given up on her. A tragic event was the final straw that led to Juliette’s solitary confinement where she has only her notebook to keep her company. 264 days later, Juliette is taken to meet with one of the leaders of The Reestablishment, Warner. He wants to use Juliette as a war weapon, but she wants to live on her own terms and is ready to fight for herself. She’s also fighting for an unexpected chance at love with Adam, the only one who has ever believed in her.
Shatter Me is a dystopian and paranormal blend mixed with a healthy dose of action and romance. The first thing of note about Shatter Me is that the writing style is very unique. The author uses strikethrough in the text quite frequently, and uses a stream of consciousness style of writing. It took me a little while to get used to this style, though I think ultimately that the style works well to convey Juliette’s frame of mind. The embellished prose is very lovely and there are quite a few examples of creative metaphors used in the book that I would have to stop and re-read throughout the book. The writing style will not appeal to all, but the author undeniably is very talented.
Juliette is a strong yet sensitive main character. She is kind and generous, even with those who have done her wrong in the past. She starts off very broken and socially awkward, but slowly finds her way throughout the book. She struggles with how to manage her powerful touch, and does not want to harm anyone if she doesn’t have to. Her powers are very interesting, and reminiscent of X-Men’s Rogue. I’m curious to see how they work and how they will develop in the future.
You would not expect much on the romantic side with the girl whose touch kills, but she does manage to have some steamy scenes with Adam. They do have some good chemistry and their shared history make for some emotional scenes. Adam has his own baggage that he carries and is handsome, driven, sensitive and protective.
And then there is Warner, the villain character who wants Juliette to kill for him. His father is the leader of the Reestablishment, and he’s only nineteen, and also very attractive. He is obsessive about Juliette and tries to convince her to partner with him willingly. He is the character to watch in my opinion, and fascinated me throughout the book. Not sure what that says about me that I favored the bad guy in the book, but he won me over.
There is a lot of action and excitement in the book, and along with the romance and the paranormal element my interest level was high. As a dystopian I was hoping for a little more world building though, and that it was shown rather than told. The ending also takes off in an unexpected direction that didn’t grab me as much as the rest of the book.
I will read the next book, especially to find out more about Warner, and I’m curious to see the direction it goes. Read Shatter Me if the writing style sounds intriguing to you, or for the romantic/paranormal/dystopian combo. Look for Shatter Me to hit shelves November 15.
I'm currently giving away an ARC of Shatter Me on my blog. Giveaway is open internationally and ends Sept. 12. ...more
In a future plague and flood-ravaged Los Angeles, now part of The Republic, fifteen year olds Day and June on the surface couldn’t be more different.In a future plague and flood-ravaged Los Angeles, now part of The Republic, fifteen year olds Day and June on the surface couldn’t be more different. June lives in the affluent part of town and is the Republic’s golden child. She excels in school and is the only person ever to earn a perfect score in the Trial. She has a bright future ahead in the Republic’s military ranks. Day, on the other hand, is also extremely intelligent but grew up without June’s advantages. Raised in the slums, his family can’t afford the plague vaccine, and his rebellious antics have landed him at the top of the Republic’s most wanted criminals list. Although June grudgingly admires Day’s cleverness and resourcefulness from afar, he becomes her enemy when his latest exploit hits a little too close to home. The truth, though, may not be what it seems and they may be close to uncovering an even bigger plot.
Legend is a thrilling and fast paced dystopian, in the same vein as Divergent and The Hunger Games. It is full of non-stop nail biting action and suspense that kept me swiftly turning pages. The two protagonists Day and June share narration in alternating chapters, with Day’s chapters typed in gold ink. Day and June are like two sides of the same coin, and both are fearless, resourceful, and smart as a whip. The dual narration works well, and the character voices are distinct. Day has a confident swagger and uses slang in his speech, while June has a more guarded demeanor. Together they are a force to be reckoned with.
Violence and a corrupt government torment this future Los Angeles, and no one is safe from their wrath. The violence is shocking and excessive at times, but it does get the message across and makes it easy to join Day’s rebellious cause.
On the romantic side, Day and June are young and haven’t known each other long, so the romance side of things is very low-key. The chemistry is there and they have the potential to be an unstoppable duo, and they are strong characters individually as well.
I see Legend appealing to both genders, as the romance is not over the top and is well balanced with a compelling and exciting story. It should be an easy transition for fans of The Hunger Games, and like that book Legend is also heading for the big screen. The writing is very cinematic and I can easily envision it as a movie. Hopefully it will be filmed in Los Angeles so we can see all the landmarks described in the book. I found Legend to be very engaging and one of the most exciting dystopians I’ve read this year....more
Last year’s Wither caught my attention; and I’ve been eager to read the sequel for ages now. Wither introduced the bleak future world where young adulLast year’s Wither caught my attention; and I’ve been eager to read the sequel for ages now. Wither introduced the bleak future world where young adults are doomed to die much too soon, and our heroine Rhine is taken to be a sister wife for breeding purposes. Fever once again pushes boundaries and delves deeper into the abyss when we get to see the realities of the outside world. This atmospheric installment is gloomier than ever as two of the characters take on an emotional and physically grueling quest. The lavish writing and twists and turns kept my attention even though I sometimes felt drugged-out by Rhine’s headspace. And while I prefer the cover of Wither to Fever, the model’s pose and the accessories on the cover very much fit the mood of the book.
In the middle installment, Rhine and Gabriel go off in search of Rhine’s brother while trying to elude housemaster Vaughn. Rhine is left to ponder if she made the right choice, while she and Gabriel face challenge after challenge. Although I missed the sister wife dynamic and the characters in the mansion, the new setting freshens up the series with new drama, and allows us to get to know Gabriel a little better.
I found the book absorbing, although the situations and dark tone had me taking frequent reading breaks. Lauren DeStefano’s writing is descriptive and lovely and paints a vivid picture of the harsh world. Middle books can sometimes seem like a stalling tactic before the finale, but there were enough reveals and action in this sequel to keep me satisfied. Just when things would start to calm down for Rhine, a new threat would emerge. I left the book feeling that some of the pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together but yet still very much in the dark, if that makes sense. The last 50 or so pages had me riveted to the page.
Rhine becomes an even stronger character through all the trials and tribulations she faces. And even though I was not always a huge fan of Gabriel in Wither, I warmed up to him a little more this time around. Characters new and old appear in Fever, and I’m curious to see if they will intersect in the final installment.
It’s difficult to talk about this book without revealing any spoilers so I have to be vague, but I’ll venture to say if you enjoyed Wither you will like Fever as well. It’s one of my favorite dystopian romance series and I wasn’t disappointed with this sequel. It left me with an appetite to re-read Wither, which I’m likely to do before the last book of the series (title TBA) drops in April 2013....more
The Pledge is the first book in a new dystopian trilogy. The concept is interesting and fast paced enough that I read it in one sitting, and the storyThe Pledge is the first book in a new dystopian trilogy. The concept is interesting and fast paced enough that I read it in one sitting, and the story’s fantasy elements set it apart from other YA dystopian books. The imaginative story is entertaining and full of adventure, which made for a pleasant fast read even though some of the character insight and dystopian world building details were sometimes lacking. I did enjoy it as much as The Body Finder series though, and especially the royalty / fantasy parts of the story.
The series opener introduces a cool concept in which the citizens of Ludania are separated by a language barrier according to class. Learning another class’s language or even looking another class member in the eye in acknowledgement of their language is a crime punishable by death. The ruler, Evil Queen Sabara, uses some fancy magic that keeps her around forever to continue to torment the citizens of Ludania. The heroine Charlaina (Charlie) is born with the talent to understand all languages. Her parents have asked to keep her talent under wraps to keep her safe and to keep a watchful eye over her gifted younger sis Angelina. Her secret is exposed when she meets Max and he recognizes she can understand his unusual language. This starts a sequence of events that cause Charlie’s world to turn upside down.
There are multiple character POV’s in the book, with Max and another character Xander sharing the spotlight with Charlie. Several other side characters are introduced, including a couple other potential love interests for Charlie, which made it hard to buy into the Max and Charlie romance completely. The side characters are somewhat lost in the shuffle of the fast moving plot. With so much action in the book, I hoped for a breather that would allow more focus on the magical origins and Queen Sabara.
The series has a lot of potential, and I’ll be interested to see where it goes, though it seems a bit twisted considering the epilogue. I would recommend this book to fans of the author’s writing, and those looking for something different in the dystopian category. ...more
I have been eagerly awaiting this book for a year, since reading Across the Universe. Despite being a Sci-Fi novice, the tension, danger, and the charI have been eagerly awaiting this book for a year, since reading Across the Universe. Despite being a Sci-Fi novice, the tension, danger, and the characters made for an unforgettable read, and I hoped the sequel would be just as good. If anything A Million Suns is even better than the first book, and managed to surprise me multiple times with the direction it took. It felt like there was never a dull moment in this suspenseful sequel.
Amy and Elder narrate A Million Suns through alternating POV. The dual narration works well as we learn different aspects about the ship’s mysteries in their day-to-day explorations. Elder is especially interesting in this book, as he tries to find his footing as Godspeed’s youngest leader. Now that the inhabitants of Godspeed are off of the sedative Phydus, they are more unpredictable and questioning of the inexperienced Elder, setting the stage for an uprising. Amy also has an important role to play as Orion left her some important clues about the ship to find, in the hopes that she can set things right. A murder mystery also keeps the inhabitants on their toes as one of the many challenges these characters face.
This series is not all about the romance, but there is some progression there. Amy is questioning whether she is drawn to Elder because he is the only boy her age on the ship, or if it is meant to be.
The book is well written and had me completely absorbed in the story. Beth Revis sets the tone so you feel the tension and cabin fever as if you were stuck on the spaceship with them. The chapters are short and fast paced and just when Amy or Elder gets a lead on something the chapter teasingly cuts to the other narrator.
This is the first of the series that I’ve experienced in audiobook format, and I think it works very well. As Elder, Lucas Salvagno is a perfect fit and conveys Elder’s state of mind realistically. Elder’s frustrations and worries all come through the reading. As Amy, Tara Carrozza is also convincing with the character, and Amy’s strength and maturity is clear in her voice. She also does well with the other character voice nuances. This audio recording is one of the reasons I like audiobooks in general because it really makes the book come alive and like you are right there in the action.
The second book in the A Million Suns trilogy is a suspenseful thrill ride and I can’t wait to find out what Beth Revis has up her sleeve for the final book....more
UNWIND is one of the more powerful and disturbing dystopian novels I have read. Many other dystopian books have tackled the theme of reproduction righUNWIND is one of the more powerful and disturbing dystopian novels I have read. Many other dystopian books have tackled the theme of reproduction rights, but this book takes it even further, and also poses thought provoking questions regarding population control, organ donation, morality, and religion. The idea is that in the future abortion is illegal, but a parent can choose to "unwind" their child between the ages of 13-18. The "unwinds" have all their body parts harvested and donated. There are so many unwind-body parts available that most surgeons just choose to do organ replacements rather than trying to fix an existing organ.
There are a few reasons why a parent may choose to unwind their child, and we follow the lives of three such characters in the book. First, Connor is somewhat of a troublemaker at school and his parents have given up on him. He finds his unwind paperwork and decides to go AWOL to avoid the harvest camp. Next, Risa has grown up in a state-run orphanage. She is well behaved, however her talents as a musician are unexceptional. The state budget simply does not have the money to keep everyone. Finally, Lev, is the tenth child in his family, and for religious reasons was raised to be a tithe. Lev has grown up all his life with the realization that he was born to fulfill his destiny as an unwind. On their way to harvest camp, the three teens find themselves thrust together as they try to survive.
The characters go on a dangerous journey to try to avoid being unwound. If they can stay hidden until they turn eighteen, they are safe. On their adventures we meet other kids who have gone AWOL. The burden of running and hiding has caused the teens to be mistrustful of one another, and different faction's and bullying behavior develop. With many lives at stake, tensions run high.
This story gripped me with the first pages. The story is chilling and provides a lot of food for thought. The characters are strong and sympathetic, fully formed beings. The story is told in multiple points of view, and I liked reading each character's perspective. The book is fast paced and delivers a thrilling and horrifying story.
I listened to the book in audiobook format. The reader does an excellent job of portraying the different character's voices and conveying the appropriate mood of the story. Some of the scenes are very difficult to read and made my stomach churn as I was listening to the story.
The book has a satisfying ending on it's own, but also leaves itself open for a sequel down the line. This is the first book I have read by this author, but I am intrigued to read more. Recommended for mature readers and dystopian fans. UNWIND is a book you won't soon forget....more